Bypassing Agencies – How I did it | UK Contractors

Bypassing Agencies
Bypassing Agencies and going direct to the client

Bypassing Agencies


Bypassing Agencies and how I succeeded by doing it.

This first appeared in our Comments section.

Bypassing Agencies – Gave Them Up

There are hundreds, if not thousands of potential clients who have seemingly given up their marketing strategies to the Finance Director.

And he/she will issue the edict “save more money!”

But there are plenty of firms who want to know who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where’s the references to prove it.

Cut Out the Agency
Cut Out the Agency and go Direct

Gave Up

Last year I had to give up finding assignments from agencies, bypassing agencies instead.

It wasn’t through choice, I quite like the protection that you get working through an agency, particularly when you bill weekly or monthly and get paid at regular intervals.

But the work didn’t come and something had to give.

Bypassing Agencies – No Interviews

At the end I had, I think, 19 roles I was interested in and had submitted my CV for, either as a result of Jobserve or from agency phone calls.

And did I get an interview? Did I heck!

So, did I get a single follow-up phone call? Did I heck!

So, and I don’t speak from recent experience, when the agency does phone about a role, does the question of money come into the conversation?

I don’t know, but I suspect it does.

Bypassing Agencies – Rarely Discussed Rates

During the boom times, I rarely discussed the fee with an agent before the job was offered.

I used to do high-end HP-UX stuff, and the rates were between 37 p/hour and 50 p/hour (oh back in the good old days!).

Contractors Going Direct to Client
Contractors Going Direct to Client can earn more money

Now it seems to be tough to find anyone on above 22 p/h.

Why didn’t we discuss rates?

It’s because the client didn’t want a “cheapie” on-site, or a wombat, or a jellybrain or a space-cadet.

He/she wanted someone who he/she trust with their vital enterprise environment.

Now like a few contractors I blagged my way through a few assignments (get to desk, rip open manual). Hoever, by the same token I also voluntarily excused myself from a role when I was out of my depth. That’s even when it wasn’t obvious I was to the client.

Bypassing Agencies – How Things Changed

So how did things change for me? Well…

  • By bypassing agencies – they’re just timewasters, spacewasters, phonecall wasters in my eyes.

  • I hit the potential clients direct with free pens (courtesy of a sample free gift via the FSB directory listings), tri-fold brochures, emails, a Web site. It was anything else I and the wife could come up with. I even considered taking-out a “directors” box at Old Trafford. That was just a bit too expensive.

  • I chose to do short-term roles anywhere in the UK. Short-term means anything down to 4 1/2 hours. Sometimes I’ll do a job that leaves me with a minus income (after the travel and b&b are substracted). However, it gets you in with a client. Quite a few come back for more. Quite a few times I’ll be on-site for 6 hours, and travel for 11.

  • I work weekends without hesitation. I don’t bill stupid fees for it (so the clients can contemplate using you). How many IT projects require weekend work?

I didn’t possess some huge list of client contacts. My wife rings up firms and harasses the telephonist until we get the names of the key staff.

There shouldn’t be a term “inexperienced contractor”.

Devious Agencies
Devious Agencies and their dirty tricks on contractors

There might be contractors who don’t have bang-up-to-date skills (because they haven’t worked for a while) but inexperienced? Of course not.

They bring with them years of knowledge of how to well, get things done.

Bypassing Agencies – No Particular Skills

I have no particular skills and no particular axe to grind. I just wish more UK contractors would do the very same as I did, not by design, but by sheer expediency.

Stop depending on Jobserve. Stop depending on some spotty snot from an agency ringing you back. Start bypassing agencies.

The work is absolutely, definitely out there. It’s just not the same sort of work I was used to.

The cut-backs most firms have made have left them in a mess much of the time. That’s where a “flexible friend” is sought after.

These firms don’t want cheap Indians. They just want someone to save them from the doggy-doo they’ve dropped themselves into.



  1. It seems of the 19 jobs are out there, none were interested in your particular offering. Not sure picking up scraps is the answer. Pretty pointless article with little substance. “These firms don’t want cheap Indians” – Outrageous statement that speaks volumes about the author.

  2. If clients have direct experience of low quality work from Indians or others then it is perfectly sensible to be racist against them – you’re protecting your interests.

  3. Interesting the point about cheap indians. I find myself in the position of having worked with all level of staff and have found Indians to be great employees and good technically. The problem is a structural and quality one. The outsourcing companies pay the bare minimum so cannot get experienced staff anywhere!

  4. Having been in this game 20 years this article spins a idea but fails to follow through, ive done a few direct gigs generally speaking most via agents but this article doesnt give any substance to help a contractor ‘go direct’.


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